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Bus passengers in West Midlands told to wear masks

By Mark Cardwell | Transport | Published:

Bus passengers should bring a face covering and wash their hands before and after their journey, according to guidance from the region’s transport body.

Measures have been introduced to keep bus users safe.

Guidance has been issued by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) in a bid to keep people safe as bus travel increases with coronavirus restrictions eased.

Jon Hayes, head of bus at TfWM, discussed the new measures – including wearing a face covering – at Birmingham City Council’s sustainability and transport overview and scrutiny committee.

People should wash their hands before and after travelling, should not sit on marked seats, not eat or drink on the bus.

Commuters should use contactless payments – or have the exact change – and stay apart when trying to get off the bus.

More Covid-19 coverage:

They should also sit by the window and leave an empty row of seats in front or behind, unless they are sat next to members of their own households.

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Mr Hayes said: “At the height of the lockdown we actually saw passenger levels decreasing to about 15 per cent of pre-Covid 19 levels.

"As a result of that the bus operators reduced the service levels to a Sunday-plus network, if you like, but obviously being mindful of providing key links for NHS staff, key workers and those still required to go out and about for essential trips.

"We are gradually seeing the network starting to see an increase in the number of passengers. As of May 26 it was running at around 22 per cent of pre-Covid 19 levels.

"As a result of that, as patronage has started to increase we have seen service levels also increase.

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"With social distancing, even with 100 per cent of vehicles operating, the network will only be able to accommodate around 35 per cent of pre-Covid 19 passenger numbers due to the social distancing requirements on vehicles."

The committee also heard from Andrew Camp, commercial director for West Midlands Trains, who said the number of passengers using its services fell by 95 per cent from a starting point of 1.5m passengers per week prior to the crisis.

He said that by July the organisation expects to be offering 80 per cent of the services in place before the lockdown – but the most passengers they can accommodate is around 30 per cent due to social distancing.

He said signs had been put up in place around stations reminding passengers of the two-metre social distancing rules, and said: "The biggest challenge we have now is managing customers on trains.

"We are looking to put signage on seats so we have social distancing split out by seating on the train and also public announcements on the trains themselves."

Mark Cardwell

By Mark Cardwell
Reporter - @mlrcardwell

Local Democracy Reporter covering Birmingham.

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